Ethereal Stories: Night Club Awakening

In the early morning, the nightclub had nothing of its superb. Lieutenant Hansen pushed aside the protective strips that barred the entrance, clumsily placed by a policeman who was unaccustomed to crime scenes. He hadn’t had time to drink coffee, having been woken much too early by the sergeant’s call. He’d just put on his clothes, grabbed the car keys, and arrived on the scene as his watch hand hit six o’clock. Not an hour to start the day this way, he thought, rubbing his eyes at the remnants of his hangover.
Once through the anonymous doors, in front of which a nonchalant cat had replaced the line of revelers waiting their turn to enter, it took him a few moments to adjust his gaze to the semi-darkness that reigned in the room. Under the gray light falling from a ventilator, the track looked seedy. Lieutenant Hansen moved quickly towards the back of the room, without lingering on the bar on his right and its mirrors, which only reflected emptiness. Hard to believe in the silence that weighed on the place, that a few hours earlier, a crowd of people moved in the middle of the track, moving to the hypnotic rhythm of techno hits, while others came and went from the bar with a drink in hand, after yelling their order to the bartender who nodded his head to signify that he had understood.
A discreet door opened at the end of the room on the spaces reserved for the personnel. Brigadier Andersen was waiting for Hansen:

«Hello my lieutenant. It’s this way.
“Hello Andersen.
– I warn you, it’s not a pretty sight. »

Hansen made a vague wave of his hand, to signify that he had seen others.
The two men entered a corridor which led to several doors.

« It’s at the bottom, my lieutenant. In the boss’s office. He had finished closing, and he went to look for his car keys in his office, like every day. That’s where he came across… the corpse. »

The door was ajar. You could hear men talking behind. Hansen pushed open the door cautiously. At the same time, three gendarmes turned their gaze towards the newcomer, and greeted him briefly, as if conviviality could have no place in such circumstances. The lieutenant’s gaze was immediately drawn to the figure lying on the ground. A woman, as the brigadier had told him. Still, his heartbeat quickened as if he hadn’t expected it.
With her sequined dress pulled up to the top of her thighs, her cheap shoes with oversized heels lying on the floor and her hair dishevelled, she looked like a stranded wreck, thrown up by the sea like trash.

Hansen closed his eyes for a moment. A flash. The same woman dancing with a greedy frenzy in the middle of other dancers. Men pressed against her, irresistibly attracted by her provocative swaying, her eyes full of innuendo, her seductive mouth. The lieutenant chased away the image. The woman now had her eyes half-closed, with a frightening stare. Purple markings marbled his pale neck.

« Strangled?” Hansen asked in a voice that sounded weaker than he wanted.
– Affirmative, my lieutenant. »

Andersen, who had remained in the background, took a few steps towards him. “We have started the surveys. The body should soon be taken away for examination by the coroner. The team should arrive soon. We didn’t touch anything, of course, but in my opinion, it’s strangulation, we have no trace of blood.

« And the boss, asked Hansen with a dry throat. Where is the boss?
– To the gendarmerie, my lieutenant. Fergusen takes his statement.
– Good,” Hansen said. Then, not knowing what to say, he repeated, “Good, good.” »

To keep himself in countenance, he took a few steps towards the victim. The headache that had been smoldering since he woke up now rumbled furiously between his temples. Hansen wondered again what had gotten him such a hangover. He really had no memory of his evening. It was happening to him more and more often lately, and if he had never ended up in the salad cart of his colleagues, he had to thank the lucky star that was watching over him. I have to stop my bullshit, he thought, looking at the woman who had gone too far, there was no turning back.
Mechanically, his gaze went around the room, and he immediately noticed discreet but very real traces of struggle. Papers had slipped on the floor. An ashtray was overturned not far from the victim.

«The boss of the club is our main suspect, of course,” continued the brigadier, who did not seem to have noticed his superior’s slight discomfort. Or an employee who would have had access to the premises.

  • Was the office locked?
  • I don’t know, Lieutenant. You will have to ask the owner the question.
    “Let’s go out,” Hansen said. There are five of us suffocating in this room. »

The two men retreated onto the dance floor. The blind walls, without the illusion of the play of lights, were squalid, coated with a dark paint peeling and stained with various splinters. The broom that had been used to clean the floor sat in a corner, next to the pile of dust that no one had bothered to pick up.

«I wish I had a little black one,” Hansen said, feeling his legs wobble.

– What’s wrong, Lieutenant? Anderson asked. You are quite pale. »

Hansen gestured that he wanted out. The room revolved around him. Dull shocks hammered his skull. Boom, boom, boom. He put his hand on the sergeant’s shoulder for support. He closed his eyes again. A new flash. The woman was there, right next to him, laughing lasciviously. Around her, the other dancers melted into an indistinct blur. The deafening music stunned Hansen with its repeated pounding. The woman had grabbed the lapel of his jacket, and was pulling him towards him.
The cool early morning air made her open her eyes. Andersen watched him with worried eyes.

“Are you all right, my lieutenant?”

– Yes, Andersen, it’s better. A moment of fatigue. The night was short, I believe. »

Ethereal Stories: Relentlessness (TW mourning)

Today I am posting a somewhat special text. I lost my grandfather earlier this week. He was a pillar for me so I had to do something to honor him. I hope you’ll like it.

From a very young age, with grandpa, we took part in many kite competitions. I will continue alone but he will always be in my heart.

I

Grandpa died last night. Dad and I drive towards Jørlunde, eyes moist. My father hits the steering wheel every time the traffic slows down, grumbling:
“What a jerk! What an idea he had to go up on the roof!
Images from my recent vacation come to mind: colorful kites tearing through the gray sky. I wipe my nose again with my soaked sleeve and shout silently: “ Grandpa ! Why ? »

Dad drops me off in front of his childhood home, a tall, five-story building that survived World War II. He asks me if he can leave me, the time to go “ do what is necessary ” for grandfather. I accept, of course, without realizing that for the first time I will be alone in this house where I have spent all my summers, as far back as I can remember.

As soon as I walked through the door, the smell of waxed wood brings a few tears to my eyes – I imagine my next vacation away from this soon to be lifeless place. In the living room, I linger over the photos placed on the sideboard: grandmother; grandfather and her, little piece of woman, hand in hand on the beach; my father on a racing bike; me, very young, all smiles in the middle of a huge sandcastle. I fix these images and engrave them in my memory.
Standing in front of the large library, I take the time to recognize the books that I have seen a thousand times near the armchair next to the fireplace. A book with a golden cover, which I had never spotted, caught my eye. I climb on a chair to grab it; the title surprises me: How to age well – not the kind of reading for this house. I open the manual, a feather falls. I pick it up, and notice the wet ink on its end. After a few seconds, I finally sit down in front of the thick wooden table to read these tips that will no longer apply to my grandpa.
All pages are blank. Not a single sign, not even a date, nothing. What good advice, congratulations! In rage, I take up the pen and almost engrave my recommendation to myself, on a random sheet: “ Do not walk on a slippery roof ! I slam the book shut and put it back in place before running upstairs to throw myself on my mattress.

Dad comes home a few hours later, dejected. Little talkative, we dine quickly then go up to bed to put an end to this cursed day. From my bed, I hear the wooden floor creak – my father is approaching. The creaks stop – short pause behind the door. He finally comes in, draws the curtains of my room and wishes me good night without looking at me.

II

The next morning, rays of light stream through the new shutters and wake me up. I hear my mother stirring the kitchen utensils down the hall. Strange sensations, feeling of having braked suddenly, that my memories collided with the walls of my skull. I slept at my house, not at my grandfather’s.
I tumble in pajamas in front of my mother, my eyes still glued, and ask her:

— Where is dad ?
— In the garden,” she replies.
I do not understand.
— And grandpa Michel?
— Grandpa, I don’t know. At his place, or at the beach, I imagine. Call him if you want.
I sit up abruptly, afraid my legs will wobble and let me fall.

At noon, I insist with my father throughout the meal: I want to eat at grandpa’s this evening. He gives in – the privilege of being an only son of an only son. My grandfather, always very happy to receive us, simmered his famous roast for us.
After dinner, while my parents are washing the dishes and tidying up the kitchen, I take out the cards to play belote. When I close the drawer of the sideboard where the photos are enthroned, I turn around and ask my grandpa a question, without thinking:
— Do you think of grandma sometimes?
— day. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of her.
— And are you talking to him?
— Nope. Not directly. I talk to myself, and since she is etched in my memory, she may hear me.
— What was the disease that took her away again?
— A hereditary filth, banal and sad, which left him no chance.
— Could we treat her today?
— Quite a question! I do not know. I do not believe. Do you have any funny ideas tonight, big boy… Shall we play?
My parents arrive at the same time.

Restless nights for two weeks, intense reflections, I think I know what happened, without obviously understanding. I alternate between fear and joy at having brought my grandfather back. I didn’t tell my parents. I often have a headache. Dead, not dead, that’s a lot of emotions.

Rainy Saturday, dark gray early afternoon. I’m trying to solve a puzzle when the phone rings. My mother picks up and wipes her hands on her apron. I see her become livid, she cries to me:
— Go get your father, quickly!

III

Grandfather died this morning in a car accident. Dad and I drive towards Jørlunde, eyes full of water, like the road. My father hits the steering wheel every time the red lights of the vehicles in front of us come on, grumbling:
— What a jerk! What an idea to drive in such weather!
Images of beaches, kites, roofs and feathers cross my mind. I blow my nose in the crook of my elbow, my head is spinning – want to vomit.

My father stops in front of grandpa’s house. He tells me that he will “do what is necessary” and that he will be back soon. Raining cats and dogs. I walk across the yard, go around the puddles, protected by my yellow raincoat.
I slam the door, drop my jacket on the tiled hallway, and rush into the living room. The golden book has not moved. I take it gently this time – I don’t want to damage it and make it unusable. I open it to a page drawn at random, and with the quill already inked, I write diligently: “ Do not drive in torrential rain ! “.

My father arrives a few hours later. I come to meet him in the hallway; we hold each other in our arms. We don’t experience the same emotions and he doesn’t know it. During dinner, I chatter a little more than the circumstances would require, but he notices nothing, haggard.

The next morning, my mother comes to drag me out of bed with the promise of hot pancakes. The sun pushes aside the curtain of clouds with vigor. With my mouth still full, I ask if we can eat at grandpa’s tonight; my mother replies that it is already planned.

In Jørlunde, when I set the table, I hear my father talking low, but with intensity, with my grandpa. I only catch snippets of the discussion: it’s about degeneracy and relentlessness – I don’t understand a thing.
The evening ends with a game of cards; my grandfather and I, with a smile on our lips, we beat my parents to the hilt.

Another week passes. I fell back to sleep. I feel like I have a super power. At times, that scares me.

Sunday noon, my father comes into my room with tears in his eyes. I can’t believe him when he tells me that grandpa fell off the roof. ” Still ? I want to say, biting my lip. Three accidents, including two falls from the roof in one month, that’s not possible. I curse all the gods I know, and get in the car towards Jørlunde.

My father drops me in front of the house and I run into the living room. When I take the magic book and open it, a postcard falls on the ground. The photo looks like an advertisement for Lake Filsø: a black and red kite crosses the azure sky. I recognize grandfather’s handwriting. He left me a note, very short: “Big boy, I know it’s difficult, but please let me go. I am very sick and I prefer to leave alive. I put my atoms back into play and I join grandma. I like you. Grandpa. »

Last night grandfather died for the last time.

The end

Jeg savner dig så meget bedstefar. Hvis jeg blev den kvinde, jeg er i dag på trods af mors fravær, er det takket være dig. Du vil altid være i mine tanker. Jeg elsker dig rigtig meget.

Take care of yourself and your loved ones, tell them you love them and see you soon!

Georgian food: Ojakhuri recipe

Today it was not me who cooked but Priya. She made us a dish that her mom from Georgia often makes: Ojakhuri.

Yeah ok, the photo is not very instagramable but god it was so good!

Important:

What gives all its flavor to this recipe is a sauce called Adjika in Georgian that you can find in Turkish grocery stores under the name of Acuka. If you can’t find one, you can do it yourself:

Adjika recipe :

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 tbsp tomato puree
  • 2 tbsp sweet pepper concentrate
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp ground walnuts
  • 2 tbsp breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 2 crushed garlic cloves
  • 1 pinch of pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. in a saucepan, cook the tomato concentrate and the pepper concentrate for 3 minutes.
  2. add the garlic, lemon juice, and all the other ingredients, mixing as you add them.
  3. you must obtain a kind of fairly compact dough
  4. let cool before serving. Store in the refrigerator.

If you have any left over, you can eat it as an aperitif tapenade.

Ojakhuri recipe:

Ingredients:

  • Sunflower oil
  • 3 tbs adjika
  • 500g of cooked meat, here there was a rest of roosted chicken (for a vegan version use 1kg mushrooms)
  • 1kg potatoes cut into bite-sized dices
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 2 roasted and peeled red bell peppers cut into strips
  • 1 tomato cut into dices
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic smashed and peeled.

Instructions:

  1. In a large bowl, brown the garlic and the onion then the potatoes in the oil.
  2. When they begin to brown, add the shredded meat or cut into bite-size pieces (if they are mushrooms, cut them into 4), add the tomato and the peppers.
  3. Once the potatoes are well cooked, add the adjika and then serve.

I hope you enjoy this dish as much as I do. It was a great discovery. See you soon!

Ethereal Stories: Android Attitude

Wednesday night with Priya and her boyfriend, we watched old movies including Modern Time with Charlie Chaplin. I love this movie but I was exhausted and I fell asleep in front of it and I had a funny dream which inspired me to write this story. It deserves to be a little more worked but I hope you will enjoy it anyway!

I

I had just taken my service, behind the machine, as usual, like everyone else. On my right, in place of John, in front of the machine, stood another machine, this time sophisticated. An android.
It had been a good two months since John had been at the factory. Unfit. It could no longer keep pace and the experts who had come some time earlier to improve space management for better performance had been unable to do anything. The diagnosis was clear: “ Performance disorders ”. From now on, the health services took care of him.
Take the chicken, turn it over, remove the giblets, put the chicken on the conveyor belt, take the chicken,…, eight hours a day.
John receives the chicken on the chain, hangs it on a hook. He cuts thighs, wings, fillets, thighs,…, eight hours a day.
With John, we were able to adapt to the rhythm of the channel. Sometimes I slowed down, didn’t send the chickens too fast. It was only a few seconds gained, but over eight hours it was felt especially when the pain appeared. But that day, the android was going fast, very fast. He was waiting for the chickens. Each time, for a moment, he stared at me with his eyes like cameras. The same as those suspended from the ceiling.
When the siren announced the end of the day, I returned home. The android stayed. An immense anxiety came over me. His gaze had something strange. The next day he was still there. The chain started, he came to life, turned his head, looked at me, waited.

II

— 35 years in the shop and 75% organic matter, John regularly threw at me with his smile tinged with a slight bitterness.

He was a funny guy. Still a little angry and a little disillusioned. It seemed to belong to another time. He often spoke to me about a guy from the beginning of the 20th century whose name I have forgotten. It’s called an artist, I believe.

— You see Louis, this film tells our story. The guy, he screws bolts on an assembly line and the line goes faster and faster. So he accelerates, but he can’t keep up. Suddenly, he finds himself caught up in the cogs, turns inside the system and comes out mad. This guy was a subversive genius. But you see, he was also a comedian and we only remember that, comedy. So everyone laughs, everyone applauds, and everyone goes back to screwing their bolts. But shit, that guy was an anarchist!

A loud beep snapped me out of my thoughts. It was off again for eight o’clock. This android was going really fast.
The channel is the boss. She sets the pace. It’s hard on the body. John said that it was called Taylorism around the middle of the 20th century and then Toyotism at the beginning of the 21st.

— The right gesture in the right space. Make the gesture as precise as possible, the most effective, avoid useless movements, limit the loss of time, limit space, erase the singularity, eradicate the error, adapt to the chain. But do you think Picasso could have painted all his work on a chain?

Artist ? Anarchist? Picasso? Taylorism? Toyotism? Where did all this come from? I tried to find out about the web. Since I couldn’t find anything about it on the official corporate websites, I wondered if John was going off the rails a bit.
The buzzer sounded again. The android was waiting.

III

— Louis. May I call you Louis? Our studies show a drop in performance in your job. It looks like your pace has slowed down a bit.
In front of me, they were three. Malfunction department agents.

— But don’t worry, we’ll help you find your initial skills. We see in your file that you have already received treatment for your knees.

— Yes, I started with the orientation of the goods. The knees, it was from bending down to lift the boxes.

— Hmm, I see. We have spotted that the failure would now be located in your wrists. You will be received by the health services so that a diagnosis can be established.

IV

With my new biotechnical wristbands, I thought everything would be better. But I kept thinking about a discussion I had had one day with John, at his house, after work.

— I don’t understand John. The guys when they work, they yell at the bosses and when they don’t work anymore, they still yell at the bosses.

— I’ll tell you Louis, it’s very simple. They yell because they are morons. Yes morons. Frankly, to spend eight hours a day with your nose in a chicken’s ass really has to be a moron. But the worst is when they get fired. After all we’ve done for this factory. I spent thirty years of my life there. And now ? Which ass am I going to put my nose in? No, but what do they believe? That we’ll roll out the red carpet for them for service to the Corporation. Yes you are right Louis. When they work, they yell at the bosses. When they don’t work anymore, they yell at the bosses. I’ll tell you. It suits them. Like that, they tell themselves that they are not responsible. But you know, to put your nose in the chicken’s ass, you have to lean forward a bit, sometimes you even have to squat down, and there generally you don’t get a nose. Can you see the painting a bit? At first it hurts a little, and then you get used to it, maybe you even end up liking it. But there is something that really hurts them. That’s when it stops. Because there they find themselves alone in front of themselves. Forced to make the sad statement of their miserable condition. And that is unbearable. So they look further. A guy sticking his nose in the ass of a cheaper chicken. And there it’s even more unbearable, because he has at least an ass he can stick his nose in. So they choose a leader. A manager who will save them. They even vote for him. That way, if the manager doesn’t save them, they can always say it’s his fault. So Louis! Ask yourself! Whose ass do you stick your nose in?

John stood in front of me, his elbow resting on the table, his forearm vertical. In his hand, a life-size, wooden, carved rump.

— Take it, it is for you. And do not forget. The truth is in the chicken’s ass.

V

On my way home, I looked for this rump. I couldn’t remember where I put it, but I found it in the back of a drawer. I took a hammer. I typed sharply. Inside was a gigamax hard drive. Quite rare and rather expensive. I slipped it into the plug provided for this purpose, behind my right ear, and there:
An infinity of data, an immensity of knowledge for which a thousand lives would not be enough to go around.

VI

I no longer have the heart to work. The buzzer sounded three times today.
— Louis. Allow me to call you Louis. The corporation has decided to offer you a “ Performance Rehabilitation Program ”. The health services will come and get you.
I went to the workshop to pick up my things. As I left, I turned one last time to the android. We looked at each other. It seemed to me that he was crying.

The End

How to make a tasty Red Thaï Curry

Today, we have planned a cinema afternoon to watch Asian films. For the occasion, I cooked a Thai Curry for my friends and also to celebrate my move to Priya.

The recipe is simple and very tasty, I will gladly share it with you.

Ingredients:

  • 1 to 2 tablespoons of red curry paste (be careful it can be hot)
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped ginger
  • 1 tablespoon lemongrass paste in a tube or finely chopped lemongrass.
  • 3 or 4 chicken thighs (boneless and skinless), cut into bite-sized cubes (chicken breasts are fine too)
  • 250ml chicken stock
  • 400 ml of coconut milk (or 250 of 12% fat fresh cream)
  • 150g diced squash (not liking squash, I substituted 300g potato and 100g carrot)
  • 120g green beans
  • 12 leaves of Thai basilicas
  • 2 lime leaves
  • 2 teaspoons of fish sauce (nuoc man for example)

Achievement:

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet. Add the curry paste, garlic, ginger and lemongrass. Let simmer for 2 minutes
  2. Add the broth, stir and reduce by half. Add coconut milk, lime leaves, fish sauce and chicken. (Add potatoes and carrots if you don’t want squash)
  3. Cook for 20 minutes over medium heat.
  4. Add the squash and the beans and we are off again for 10min of cooking.
  5. Add a handful of Thai basil leaf and serve with garnish

Garnish (recommended): slices of fresh red pepper, cilantro leaves and jasmine rice for a traditional version.
My recommendation: It’s a little less traditional but personally I really like to accompany this dish with couscous semolina.

Some News

I come back to you to give you new information.

I found a place to stay. My friend Priya has offered to host me and my cats in a roommate!

I met Priya by chance on a forum about deafness at the very beginning of the COVID lockdowns. She is a psychologist and was looking for information for one of her patients and we became friends before we could meet. Since then, I have often worked with her as part of my job or to serve as her interpreter. We developed a certain complicity and I, who didn’t want to rely too much on Grandmother’s shoulders, am delighted with her proposal!

Poor thing, she doesn’t know what it’s like to live with a deaf person. I hope she won’t regret it or at least that she will be able to put up with me!

Det betyder meget for mig, mange tak Priya!

Today I no longer have a home.

If I write this article, it is to warn you that there may be a little disruption in my next posts. Indeed there was a fire at my house last night and I find myself in the hospital.

Don’t worry too much about me, I’m fine but not having been able to hear the fire alarm. I had smoke detectors which flash light in addition to the alarm but being asleep, I was not warned and I inhaled a little too much smoke before being able to evacuate so I was kept under observation for 24 hours.

My house was not completely destroyed by the flames but it will not be habitable for a while.

In short, more fear than harm. I just lost memories and some stuff but it’s just material.
I’m going to live with my Grandmother until things get better.

I’ll post when there’s something new.

Take care of yourself and your loved ones and see you soon!

A simple and original accompaniment for grilled meats: Zucchini, Corn and Parmesan.

This afternoon, I eat with dad and my grandparents. In the program I prepared a roast chicken and to accompany it instead of the traditional mashed potato I planned this little side dish.

Zucchini, Corn and Parmesan

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 zucchini, diced
  • 1 cup corn kernels, canned or roasted
  • 1/4 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
  • Salt and pepper
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons fresh coriander leaves
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, or more

Preparation:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for about 1 minute.
  2. Add zucchini, corn, basil, oregano and thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally, until zucchini is tender and cooked through, about 3-4 minutes;
  3. seasoned with salt and pepper, to taste. Stir in lime juice and cilantro. Serve immediately, sprinkled with Parmesan.

Take care of yourself and your loved ones and see you soon!

Ethereal Stories: The last rays of the day

Today I just wanna wrote an horror story for changing a bit of what I wrote generaly. (There is no Blood and no Gore if you are triggered by this). It take me more time that I though but I hope it will please you.

The last rays of the day

It all started with an explosion. A flash of light, and a rain of brown dust. They told us not to panic. That these particles were harmless, and that we could go on living as if this extraordinary event had never happened. They were wrong.

I bend down to pick a new wildflower and bring it to my face before adding it to my bouquet. Mom will love it.

At first, no one really noticed the changes. People, stuck in their routine, blinded by their problems, had better things to do than be moved by the amazing growth of shrubs or the flowering of dying plants. Days gradually turned into weeks, and everyone forgot about the explosion, the light and the specks of dust. At least, until the animals start to change too.

The tall grass scratches my calves. The wind whips through my hair and softens the sunburn on my weathered skin. But apart from this breeze which stirs the leaves and shakes the tops of the trees, all is calm. Accustomed to this supernatural silence, I barely remember that there was a time when I liked to listen to the chirping of birds, the barking of dogs, and even the hum of traffic on the main road. Now, only the sound of my breathing remains, and the creak of my footsteps sinking into the thick carpet of wild grass.

Neighborhood animals have become aggressive. Their owners no longer dared approach them. Then the birds started falling from the sky. One second they were flying gracefully through the clouds, the next they were lying crushed on the asphalt. Even my cat was different. He ran away from our company to hide in dark places, refused to eat and sometimes disappeared for days on end.

I plod along on the way home. I have crossed these fields and wandered in this forest so many times over the past few months that I could walk there with my eyes closed. My passages ended up forming a path in the thick vegetation, even if this tends to regain its rights now that my walks are becoming rarer. I find it increasingly difficult to walk, but I wanted to make this bouquet and choose the most beautiful flowers. Although not much else has mattered lately, I won’t give up trying to smile back at Mom. She suffered so much.

My cat is dead. We buried him under the chestnut tree, mum, Theo and me. At that time, Dad continued to go to work every morning, but we all knew that something was wrong. The gardens were fallow. The roots of the trees created wide cracks in the road, as if trying to come up to the surface. A sweetish scent of flowers and humus lingered in the air. The dogs were no longer barking. Scientists could not explain these phenomena. They began to invent outlandish theories that only fueled general terror. One after another, people packed their bags and left, leaving empty houses behind. We decided to stay. Here or elsewhere there was the same anxiety-provoking climate, and Theo was ill.

I have to stop to catch my breath, sitting on a stump in the undergrowth. The pain in my muscles is unbearable. My chest is burning. My tense fingers tremble around my bouquet. More than a few minutes. Only a few hundred yards, and I’ll be home. So I grit my teeth, swallow back the sticky tears that have started rolling down my cheeks, and push myself forward. One step after another.

The neighborhood has taken on the appearance of a ghost town. People hunkered down and locked themselves in their homes, with whatever food supplies they could find. An armed militia has taken to patrolling the streets, on the tree-torn pavement that once lined the road. Freed from their concrete cage, they blossomed to dizzying heights while humans walled themselves in alive, holed up in their basements. I heard gunshots. Dad stopped pretending that the world was round. Theo stopped leaving his bed.

Long cracks crisscross the asphalt. Scraps of cars lie along the rutted sidewalks, some half-swallowed by ravenous nature. In the abandoned alleys, I come across trunks with almost humanoid shapes. Their branches lean over me to greet me, but I can’t stop. Not yet.

They cut the electricity. At night, we gathered in Theo’s room, Mom hugged me while Dad whispered that everything was fine, the flame of our last candles casting shadows on his bloodless face. Nothing had been going well for a long time. Outside, a war has finally broken out. People were hungry. Those who could still move emerged from their burrows, armed with clubs, knives or guns, and began to fight. We had nothing left to eat and mom had caught the disease that was eating away at my brother, so dad resolved to join in the chaos. It was the last time I saw him, through the planks that barred the windows, his slender figure moving away in the darkness.

I absently scratch the scabs that cover my forearm. A thick, syrupy liquid flows from my wounds. My bones crack like twigs as soon as I begin to move. I’m close to home now. I’m going to find mum and Théo soon. They are waiting for me in the garden, as always. As I drag myself to the rusty gate, I repeat these words to myself over and over again, until they form a bulwark against the pain that blocks my breathing.

The streets have regained their calm. An abnormal, implacable calm, cut only by the whistling of the wind. The plants have invaded everything, and the bodies have disappeared, replaced by young shoots. The seasons have passed without my ever encountering any living beings. It didn’t matter, as long as I didn’t lose Theo and Mom. I learned how to manage to find food, and after a while I realized that my body no longer needed to eat to regain its strength. All I had to do was lie in the sun, my bare skin pressed against the earth, to be satiated. I lost track of time.

I collapse at the feet of Mom’s motionless silhouette. When I find the courage to stand up, the sun is already low on the horizon. I brush against his rough hand, slip my bouquet between his frozen fingers, sketch a smile that makes my cheeks crack. Then I sit down, my back glued to his statue-like legs, calm. Already, I feel the climbing weeds clinging to my body and the pain fading. I am ready to join them. Mom, Theo and all the others. I close my eyes, and the last tear coagulates before reaching my chin, a drop of amber with golden reflections under the last rays of the day.

Ethereal Stories: Visite of an earthling garden

On this mild spring day, Jacques was spending the afternoon in his garden digging. Gently, he prepared the ground for the planting of potatoes while leaving the poultry cackling at his feet. Without the slightest caution, the hens dived under the spikes of his tool to swallow the visible earthworms and fought for the biggest ones. Sometimes the gardener had a few seconds of respite, when one of his poultry decided to run away with a particularly appetizing worm. The other beasts, bad ones, then set off in pursuit to steal from its beak without worrying about the insects left behind. At the other end of the garden, wasps were already circling around the first raspberries and trying to leave as little as possible for humans. And as Jacques was returning home to enjoy a well-deserved lemonade, a tiny ship crashed among the magnolias, petunias and hydrangeas.

The craft bounced from leaf to leaf and shook its occupant unceremoniously. Fortunately, the thick grass was enough to soften the fall to allow the machine to land without significant damage. A few minutes later, an alien set foot on Earth for the first time. A full suit surrounded him and completely hid his body while revealing a humanoid figure. From the top of his two centimeters, Qzar rushed to conquer this new land. Equipped with a recorder in his helmet, the alien described his environment in detail by trying to compare each thing to an already known object. The yellow, round flowers were therefore mussratts, the small red speckled with black dots were ivirs, and the green tufts were grsazs. A few surprises still awaited the newcomer. The flower petals were inedible, the earth had a strange brown color instead of the usual yellow, and strange eight-legged creatures wanted to eat it.

The first time Qzar encountered such a creature, he simply noticed the presence of shlarks on the planet and continued on his way without paying any more attention. Although the color was, of course, slightly different and the beast a little bigger, there was no doubt that he had come across a peaceful creature. He was even thinking of the shareholders who were delighted to see a new breed of the most popular pet in the entire Znays system appear. This discovery risked bringing in a small fortune, except for him, a miserable explorer paid for with a slingshot. Could he at least hope to give his name to this discovery?

After a quick turn, a walk of well five meters, he decided to return to the ship to explore a more distant area. However, on his return, his gaze was caught by a strange wire sculpture hanging at the bottom of a hedge. The latter, quite fine, represented a sort of slightly imperfect circle. Pure white, Qzar remained a few seconds admiring this astonishing spectacle. Was it a work of art? Without a doubt. An intelligent species must therefore already be living on this planet. The alien decided to take the time to explore the surroundings to try to find the creator of this incredible work and thus take the first step with the locals. Unfortunately, instead of encountering any living beings, Qzar only found dead insects and works of art. Many sculptures linked leaves and tall grass to create different shapes. Circle, square, oval, triangle and rhombus jostled and mixed to give ever more unique works. This little patch of land no doubt served as an artist’s studio, but the remains of corpses sometimes even stuck in the white sculptures seemed to indicate that the place had been deserted for a long time. Qzar heaved a small sigh of discouragement, but continued to search the work area all the same. He even inspected the tips of the legs and the remains of the wings to verify that they were indeed bodies. Certain that the studio was deserted, Qzar allowed himself to inspect the sculptures themselves and couldn’t resist touching them. Gently, very cautiously, he grabbed a thread and, startled by the sticky contact, he tried to pull his hand back immediately. Without success. The alien then understood the deception and forced more and more on his arm. What creature could be cunning enough to lure innocent people with such beautiful traps?

Quickly, a new shlark arrived near the small alien. The latter ignored him and continued to tug on the wire in an attempt to pull it out. He was, however, forced to pay attention to this eight-legged beast when it bit him on the shoulder. Surprised, he hit her with the back of his hand without even thinking about it and the creature, furious, threw itself on him without waiting any longer. Its mandibles clacked close to Qzar’s face and the image of the peaceful shlarks immediately flew away. In this struggle, the beast broke many sculptures and freed the alien who, without worrying about the damage, fled as quickly as possible to join his ship.

And the earth shook. The leaves stirred, the flies flew away, the ants fled, and Qzar kept running. Seeing his ship, he couldn’t help but smile, but a huge rubbery green thing crushed his precious vehicle in one fell swoop. Stopping dead, the alien contemplated the few remains of the ship without believing it. More slowly, he moved forward to get a better look. The front door, under pressure, had been kicked out to smash against a salad and a few shards of unbreakable glass lay strewn across the floor. Unable to leave this planet and even unable to warn his colleagues, Qzar simply admired the rubble without paying attention to the huge feathered creature near him.

Was it an insect, a worm, a seed, leftover dough or even an eggshell? The hen was unable to tell so, in doubt, she swallowed it.